Viktor Akylas was a Caltech grad student in experimental physics, back in the 1970's when I was also working toward a Ph.D. there in Pasadena. Viktor was fun and crazy, but I hadn't thought much about him until last week when I attended a talk by an MIT math professor named Triantaphyllos R. Akylas. After his presentation I spoke with him, and of course (small world!) he turned out to be Viktor's younger brother whom I had met in passing a quarter century ago. Triantaphyllos and Viktor shared an off-campus student house then, and I remember Viktor remarking, "We never talk; we only shout political slogans at one another!" A good brotherly relationship, in other words.

Viktor and I went on some long car trips to Death Valley, Berkeley, and other western US sites. He was a fan of Tom Lehrer songs, so we sang our favorites a capella on the road. Most memorable was a 1976 junket to Las Vegas. We had studied Edward Thorp's book Beat the Dealer and were primed to play Blackjack ... or at least, knew enough not to lose too much. We went to some cheap casinos, rendezvoused with my brother Keith who had come from Texas, played many hundreds of hands of cards, and asked the pretty ladies who offered us drinks to bring us milk. To save money we slept in Viktor's car on the street --- in front of a building which, when the sun rose, we discovered was a police station. When the dust settled we were maybe $40 ahead, not counting the cost of gasoline or the value of our time. But we had fun. Thanks, Viktor!

Friday, May 04, 2001 at 18:47:55 (EDT) = 2001-05-04

TopicProfiles - TopicPersonalHistory

(correlates: ThanksAndAcknowledgements2, 2007-09-17 - Artemesia Dusk, NamingNames, ...)